The South African Airways Business Class Lounge for international passengers in Johannesburg is located past security and immigration in the middle of terminal A, along with a few other airline lounges.
South African Airways operates two lounges in Terminal A – one for their top-tier Platinum frequent flyers (known as the “Cycad” lounge), and the other for Business Class and Star Alliance Gold passengers, known as the “Baobab” lounge.
The Baobab lounge is a sleek, roomy lounge with plenty of room to stretch out. Although it was a busy weekday morning, the lounge didn’t feel crowded.
There were many nooks and crannies to set up camp. There was also an audio-visual lounge (basically a TV room), a kid’s lounge, and even a lounge for smokers.
Most of the seating by the windows had power outlets but they only fit South Africa’s unique plugs. You can borrow an adapter from the front desk leaving your boarding pass as collateral.
The food in the lounge was basic. I arrived in the lounge around 9 am, and the breakfast consisted of sliced cheeses, deli meats, muffins, toast, cereals and fruit. I was craving scrambled eggs and sausages so I was disappointed. :
To their credit, I really enjoyed the 100% pure freshly squeezed juices, which didn’t contain fillers or added sugar (I read the label).
I also took advantage of the showers. The shower attendant escorted me to a vacant shower and handed me a couple of towels packaged in plastic wrap. Amenities like soap and shampoo came out of a dispenser. Doesn’t matter which one because they use a combined shampoo/shower gel concoction.
Overall, the lounge is a very nice space to relax, with an excellent “hard product”, but I found a few things lacking.
Some of the food trays and juice dispensers were completely empty but no refilled them during the whole hour I was there. The beverage fridge was empty with a large cart of beverages ready to be stocked sitting beside it but no one was doing any restocking. There was plenty of staff hanging around the lounge, so I’m not sure why these things weren’t getting done.
Boarding Pass Fiasco
45 minutes before departure, I start heading towards the gate. I reach into my purse to find my boarding pass and… I don’t have my boarding passes.
Where could they be? I scoured the lounge, the showers, anywhere I spent any amount of time.
I run to the front desk, asking if they can reprint a boarding pass.
“Why did you lose your boarding pass?”
“I don’t know, I can’t find them.”
“You’ll have to pay me for a new one.” Pensive gaze.[long pause]
“Ok, how about one rand?” Pensive gaze.[long pause]
She actually seemed half serious about being paid for a new boarding pass. I was out of breath from the frantic searching so I didn’t say anything.
Finally, she relented, loaded a boarding pass machine with paper, and after what seemed like a trip through an elephant’s digestive system, a new boarding pass popped out of the rear end of the machine.
I’m not really not sure what to think of the staff at the South African Airways Business Class Lounge. Between the neglect of the food area and the surliness of the reception staff, I wasn’t too impressed. Which is too bad because it’s otherwise a beautiful lounge.